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Helion Prime is like nowhere else Buffy's ever lived; endless waves of amber sand, architecture blazing with golden, mirrored light, green seas lapping against the sterile shores of the port town where Riddick's friend the Imam lives, loose flowing clothes on everyone and stone-paved streets thronged with pilgrims. People are people in any century, though; she spends a few days watching, then picks a social niche, not too high in the instep but not too low either, and blends right in.

Riddick, for all his claims to hate the brightness, follows like a watchful house-lion in her wake. Dressed local enough not to stand out, one pace beside and behind her-- the gaze of the city guard slides over his presence to fixate on the exposed curve of her shoulders, the brightly painted toes winking from below her hem, and the dazzle of her smile as she assesses them right back. She gets used to the perpetual growl; because there's nothing like a blonde moment to misfile her as 'harmless' and he as merely 'jealous protector' in the minds of anyone who notices them in the first place.

Not that he isn't-- jealous and protective, that is. But there's nothing 'mere' about Richard B. Riddick, a purer predator than any other man Buffy has ever met. Not even her vampires, left back on old Earth when the Council had lifted another prophecy over her head like Damocles' sword; they'd been too intent, each in their separate way, on recapturing the humanity they'd lost. Riddick has no such sorrows; he is what he is, and what he is, is just like her.

For a man who can match her blade for blade in a fight, who walks willingly at her side but refuses to be tamed, who says he loathes the entire civilized 'verse but made a space for her in his heart-- Buffy would do much more than mentor the little sister he'd found on a Hellworld and killed to protect. Jack reminds her all too much of a certain group of children who'd come of age on a Hellmouth, eons ago; an uneven mix of immature emotion and experience beyond her years, struggling to define her place in an insane world.

All she asks of Buffy is to teach her to defend herself, so Buffy does: both against the foes she'd faced on M-344/G and those who have yet to arrive. The slow approach of the Necromongers is like an itch under Buffy's skin; every murmur in the marketplace about another world gone dark, every nightmare featuring armored men in shades of steel and smoke tell her unmistakably that she has come to exactly the right place.

Money is little problem in the face of that certainty; the Imam's disapproving expression when he finds out how they earn it, even less. Riddick already knows intimately how well slams pay, and if a few of the worst scum leave their lives and gear in their hands instead... Buffy's morals are a little more flexible these days. Parasites are parasites, after all, whatever their form. They find a place of their own nearby and watch over Jack as she grows from a feisty, androgynous kid into a talented young woman with tightly curling hair and a figure too pronounced to safely bind. Unable to mimic Riddick any more, she looks to Buffy in that too; and by the time she's ready to leave the nest she's a match for any merc alive.

And not too soon either, because the day after Jack goes down to sign onto a trader's crew, the livid tail of a comet appears like a flag of war against the backdrop of the night sky. Buffy exchanges a long glance with Riddick at the sight, and is not at all surprised when the Imam summons them to his house after the next meeting of Helion's leadership council.

She pauses on the threshold as they arrive, scenting a disturbance in the air, and feels the prickle of alien energy along her nerves for the first time since coming out of cryo.

Riddick senses something, too; he whirls, drawing his knife in one smooth motion, and a woman's throat appears beyond the curve of its blade. She's all in pale flowing fabrics, with a fall of pure white hair, and eyes them with a distantly assessing gaze; Buffy has a weird, incongruous thought about ribcage hats as their gazes meet, and knows instantly what she must be.

"Don't tell me," she says, narrowing her eyes at the spirit. "There's a prophecy. Or something like one."

Arctic blue eyes linger on her a moment, then switch back to Riddick, the answer obvious. "There's a story," the woman corrects her. "Though one that does not speak of a partner."

"They never do," Buffy scoffs. "But I learned a long time ago, alone just means easier to kill."

"Two for the price of one, or no deal," Riddick agrees, lifting his goggles to his forehead for a better view. "And that's supposing there is a deal."

The spirit whirls away from his blade, insubstantial for the time it takes for her to reform inside the house; she purses her mouth as though she has tasted something sour, then sighs and concedes. "I suppose it is appropriate that even in this, there be a balance."

Buffy's been awake five years now; she'd known that there would eventually be a reckoning. But that doesn't mean she has to make it easy. "How about you tell us what 'this' is, and let us be the ones to make that decision," she suggests.

"Defiant as any Furyan," the spirit observes. "Very well."

Then she explains. And watching Riddick's profile, Buffy knows the instant he realizes their idyll there has come to an end. For the world's sake, Riddick would let it all circle the drain. But for Jack's sake, and for hers?

They've drowsed here long enough. Time to indulge that primitive side once more.